I understand the message they were tryna send across with this, and support it. However, a simple pie chart could have sufficed, because I really hate this graphic. It’s simplistic and ignorant—stuff like this is a huge part of why I disavowed myself from the Occupy movement a long time ago.
Beyond all the standard critiques of statistics like this (namely ignoring issues of race, gender, orientation, citizenship, and the vast quality of life divide between people of the 75% and people at the bottom 3%), transposing it on top of a map of the US is really messed up. Conflating power with ownership (be it wealth or land, which is now conveniently muddled for the viewer) is dangerous because (a) it’s not true and (b) it in no way equals justice in any substantive form (great examples of why equal shares of a pie don’t equal justice are found in affirmative action debates).
now that wealth/land ownership concepts are sufficiently muddled, the anticipated viewer response would be to sense that this breakdown of the pie isn’t fair—the country belongs to each its citizens, right? and God forbid the “poorest 90%” are all corralled into the metaphoric Deep South and along the Mexican border (way to play on racialized ideas of poverty, Occupy)!
I don’t know if it’s sloth or fear that keeps Occupy graphic designers from producing a real map of land ownership, considering it could be very indicative of wealth distribution. What that map would show is that overwhelmingly US land is comprised into three categories: government owned, corporate owned, and small private landholdings. the former two comprise a vast area of this nation’s land base, though what the third category shows is what I’m most interested in for the purposes of Occupy. if we break down small private landholdings into whether the occupants own the property or not, the distribution of wealth/land would show geographic inequities too powerful to ignore. and then maybe let’s get crazy and add in toxic waste sites (largely corporate owned and state-regulated)—what you’ll see is that some of the poorest areas of the US (Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, the rural Southwest, etc) are home to vast tracts of toxic waste (designated Sacrificial Lands). then if we add in racial demographics, you’ll find that those areas *just happen to* be primarily populated by POC (tell me what the difference between Sacrificial Lands and Sacrificial Peoples is again?)
what’s this—a breakdown in the 90%??? suddenly suburban white boys who were raised on a $70,000 per year salary don’t have so much to victimize themselves with! guess they’ll have to actually stand in solidarity with POC and actual ~poor~ people! (but that would be too much to ask right?)
finally, this conflation of wealth/land/power totally feeds into a colonial-imperial narrative of what equality and justice mean. when it comes to land and wealth ownership in the US (which by the way are totally linked, even beyond this horrible graphic, considering the bulk of wealth in the US has historically come from exploitation of land and obviously colonialism), equal pie slices is not equality. To paraphrase Winona LaDuke, we need a whole new pie, not different slices. Equality means each and every resident is treated like a human being, and a huge chunk of that is recognizing indigenous sovereignty and land rights. All of that land is indigenous land, and that wealth has come from the theft and exploitation of indigenous lands, as well as the exploitation of POC (what wealth would even exist in the US without the mass enslavement of Black and Native peoples, without the ongoing exploitation of brown laborers today?). this graphic is whitewashed neocolonial bullshit, totally unthinking and insensitive to POC histories, experiences, and struggles.
the presupposition of “they would own this and this,” and “we would own this” is beyond privileged. the concept of a ‘we’ in the 90% needs to be extensively interrogated, because at this point it doesn’t exist, and the assumption of ownership is racist colonial ignorance.
next time just do a fucking pie chart—at least then it will only be slightly